The number of students undertaking home schooling in Western Australia increased by 22 per cent between 2019 to 2021, according to state government figures.
- Home Education WA says mask mandates are playing a role in the decision by parents to homeschool their children
- It follows a 22 per cent rise in students learning from home since the COVID-19 pandemic began
- A Margaret River family has found a better work-life balance and has chosen to continue homeschooling
Numbers rose from 3,720 in 2019, to 4,562 in 2021, with not-for-profit Home Education WA [HEWA] believing the state’s COVID-19 mask mandate for students in year three and above had prompted some parents to keep them at home.
“There are a contingent of people who are choosing to homeschool due to the mask mandate, particularly for younger children, because they don’t feel it’s beneficial for their children or their children aren’t going to cope with that,” HEWA committee member Saani Bennetts said.
But she said numbers were continuing to rise and stressed the main reasons behind homeschooling had little to do with the pandemic.
Those issues included bullying, children requiring additional support or to be further challenged, and those struggling with the transition from primary school to high school.
Leaving the ‘rat race’
Elisha Holcroft described herself as “the most unlikely homeschooler” but was among those West Australian parents who chose to teach their children at home.
She said the decision was not related to COVID-19 or a school, but to create a better work-life balance for herself and her family from their home in Margaret River in WA’s south-west.
“For me it was the feeling of being rushed, wanting to take a step back,” Ms Holcroft said.
Ms Holcroft said she had also noticed, when her eldest child was in kindergarten, that they were being held back in some areas despite wanting to move ahead because other children were not keeping up.
She began homeschooling Macabee, eight, and Leylan, six, in May, starting with a six-month trial and deciding with her husband to continue after seeing how happy their children were and how much they were learning.
“We will be through [it] a lot quicker than what they will be at school.”
Murdoch University education doctoral student Damon Sokolowski said that, while there were issues with additional costs and reduced income, there were more resources available online that made homeschooling easier for parents.
This included help in organising meet-ups with other homeschooling families.
“And then as well there’s Facebook groups and other co-op groups now.
“The internet’s just made available all these other possibilities for community and connection with like-minded people.”
A ‘closer’ family
Ms Holcroft said homeschooling worked well for her family, which she said had grown closer because they were spending more time together.
“My nan does sewing with them, my dad does music, my sister does art, all this stuff we couldn’t do [before],” she said.
Ms Holcroft was initially working full-time from home when she began acting as educator but has since reduced her hours.
“I’ve always said, if they decide they want to go back, they can go back.”